The Film (4/5)
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice had 2 strikes against it with me personally before I broke the plastic wrap on the Blu-ray. It was a Zack Snyder film, and it features Superman. Zack Snyder is a director that I've long held issue with, so have a lot of people so that is nothing new. He began his career with a remake of a film that is among my favorite of all time (Dawn of the Dead), and though he's made some films I enjoy (I actually really liked what he did with Watchmen) the rest of his film's have done nothing for me.
Superman, on the other hand is a character I left in my early childhood. I watched the movies, read the comics, and the George Reeves lead TV series, but there was something too perfect and impenetrable about this superhero icon, and I left his book and movies behind. That being said, I had an odd fascination with seeing Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice which takes it's basic concept from a few frames from the late 80's Frank Miller comic "The Dark Knight Returns".
The film opens during the closing events of Man of Steel, Zack Snyder's prior cinematic Superman entry. During Superman's (Henry Cavill) final battle with General Zod Metropolis is being torn apart, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) arrives on the scene, and helps remove bodies from the wreckage of the buildings. This leaves an impact on Wayne who believes that Superman is a societal menace capable of destruction, not a hero.
The film picks up 18 months later, Lois Lane heads out to the Middle East to get an interview with a terrorist, when things don't do well Superman saves her, and is oddly framed for getting involved with U.S. efforts over there. This brings Congress in to scrutinize Superman, and the extent in which he should be able to operate without government jurisdiction. We then have Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who is operating in both Metropolis and Gotham, and working with government officials to get a hold of Kryptonian artifacts for an unknown purpose. He is also working to bring Batman and Superman against one another.
Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a very difficult film to synopsize. There are multiple plot strands from 2 superheroes, and enough material for 2 movies here. I didn't see the film in theaters, but watching the ultimate edition after the theatrical cat, there were elements initially left on the cutting room floor that helped flesh the story out quite a bit. The 30 extra minutes also helps to add a bit of depth to the story turning a film that felt complicated and rushed at 2.5 hours, and feel more complete and tonally different at 3. The ultimate edition at times actually feels like a government conspiracy thriller as much as it does a superhero movie.
The film is actually a really fun ride. I get why fans were up in arms about it, as Superman does at times feel tonally at odds to the character as he has been portrayed by the media in the past. However, in the world created by Snyder and crew for Dawn of Justice this version of the character works. The performances from the cast are absolute fantastic. Amy Adams does an excellent job as Lois Lane, and Gal Gadot turns in an excellent Wonder Woman. Henry Cavill does justice to Superman himself, and Ben Affleck may actually be the new high watermark for Batman/Bruce Wayne performances in film. I am definitely looking forward to what he does with his Batman solo outing. I will even give credit to Jesse Eisenberg who plays a young inexperienced version of Lex Luthor in a way that we as an audience have never seen before. He wasn't comic book Lex, but he was entertaining when he was on screen, and fit well into the world of the film.
Snyder, of course, needs to be given credit for doing what he does best, and that is an excellent realization of the visual portion of the film. If Batman Vs. Superman does one thing incredibly well it is all in it's visuals. Also, the pacing of the film which oddly at 3 hours never seems to drag. My only personal complaints are a few plot lines that could have been condensed, or didn't make sense to utilize, which would have made the film a tighter overall experience, and the blatant disregard for a major DC character. That being said Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a fun, entertaining, albeit dark and violent entry into the DC Universe canon. I don't believe it deserves the hate it has gotten, and with the new Ultimate Edition, I believe it deserves a second (or first glance) from viewers.
Warner Brothers presents Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice in a splendid 16x9 1080p AVC encoded transfer that preserves the overall look of the film's theatrical presentation. Detail throughout the presentation is excellent, colors are well reproduced, and blacks are inky and deep.
Audio is handled with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in English. The track is quite excellent with dialogue, score, and ambient effects coming through nicely with excellent separation of sound.
Warner has provided a series of documentaries and featurettes offering a behind the scenes glimpse of the film, and also a background into the characters of their DC Cinematic Universe.
Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice got torn apart upon theatrical release. The film, however, is one of Zack Snyder's better films, and is full of action packed superhero excitement. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and includes a nice slate of extras for fans. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.